First letter and response regarding Chick-Fil-A at Cal Poly, SLO (July 3, 2012)

Dear President Armstrong,
I’m writing to express a concern that has recently come to my attention. Press reports indicate that Chick-fil-A has a history of donating to and supporting anti-gay groups:

As you know, we have a Chick-fil-A in The Avenue here on campus, an organization we “proudly feature”:

A number of students have indicated discomfort with this association. While I do respect the rights of businesses to support causes they value, Cal Poly also has a responsibility to choose the types of businesses we partner with. It is my view we should partner with organizations whose values are in line with our own mission as a university. In particular:
“As an academic community, Cal Poly values free inquiry, cultural and intellectual diversity, mutual respect, civic engagement, and social and environmental responsibility.”
Chick-fil-A’s actions neither foster mutual respect nor social responsibility. Their ongoing denial of their actions in the face of direct evidence indicates their unwillingness to engage society in an intellectually honest manner. Naturally, as a campus, we should not hesitate to discuss these issues openly in the spirit of free inquiry and civil engagement. However, this does not require us to tacitly support their anti-gay position by providing this company with a platform for financial gain; these gains will likely be directed in part towards said causes in direct conflict with our university mission. Especially given such a wide spectrum of other partners to select from who are not in conflict with our mission who could fulfill the same function on campus as Chick-fil-A.

I urge you to take issues like these into consideration when renewing campus partnerships and while developing any new partnerships in the future.
Thank you for your time and best regards,
Thomas D. Gutierrez
Associate Professor
Physics Department, 25-223
California Polytechnic State University
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Cal Poly Corporation Director Bonnie Murphy’s response to the first letter:

Dear Mr. Gutierrez:

Thank you for your message related to Chick-fil-A. President Armstrong shared it with me and asked that I look into the question and respond. I have read similar articles and understand the concern you expressed. I am sure that others also have been concerned in reading that any organization might be discriminating against anyone in our community or elsewhere.

It was that concern that caused me to join others in looking deeper into this question and learn more about Chick-fil-A’s practices. In doing so, we have not found any evidence that Chick-fil-A has discriminated against gays and lesbians in its employment or its customer service—nor did we find that anyone had accused them of any such discrimination.

Similarly, we have not received any concerns from the Cal Poly community indicating that Chick-fil-A has acted in any way but respectfully to employees and customers. It might help to note that the Cal Poly Corporation operates the Chick-fil-A on campus so all employees and service are for us and provided by us.

With this additional information, I have confidence that Cal Poly is well served and that our relationship with Chick-fil-A provides quality product and service in an environment free of discrimination.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss this further. Best wishes for a good summer,

Bonnie D. Murphy

Associate Vice President of Commercial Services & Executive Director Cal Poly Corporation

Customer Response